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How do you remove the a laminated top?

Discussion in 'Setup & Repair [DB]' started by rake, Jun 27, 2004.


  1. rake

    rake

    May 4, 2004
    Michigan
    I have an old Kay C1 that is basically fire wood (unless I could afford $2000+ worth of work for it). It only cost me 200 and I want to try my hand at overhauling it. I've found many resources for the other work it needs, but nothing on how to remove the top. any help would be wonderful. thanks
     
  2. Every Kay that I have played over here in London has been good. Just because the front is done in doesn't mean that the bass is " firewood". Don't ruin a potentialy good instrument. Unless you are very adept at instrument building; or are prepared to do courses to get good; or can get a luthier to take you on as an apprentice.... well... get a real luthier,Arnold Schnitzer,Bob Brandsetter etc to make you a new front. They like working on good instruments, admitedly not for free, but you obviously haven't yet realised how hard it is to get a good instrument. If you want to get into luthiery , ok , but I get the feeling you want to do it on the cheap. What you are attempting is a hard thing to do; it is a harder thing to do cheaply.
    Just my experience, as I am at present having a new front put on one of my basses.
     
  3. McBass

    McBass

    Mar 31, 2004
    Brooklyn, NY
    Check previous threads. This has been discussed before. I'm not a luthier, but assuming it's glued with hide glue, you can do it with warm water a thin blunt knife and patience. If it's been "modified" with white glue or epoxy you're in for some trouble. If you've ever thought about trying to restore a bass, this seems like a perfect situation to go for it. Try and read up on in and ask qualified people lots of questions.
     
  4. Mudfuzz

    Mudfuzz

    Apr 3, 2004
    WA...
    Here is a good source for Building and repair info the Musical Instrument Makers Forum http://www.mimf.com/index.htm I know this has been gone over here, and is some where in the Library [you will have to join, but it's free].
     

  5. Unfortunately, Kay C-1's are a dime a dozen here in the States. Maybe it's different in the UK. Luthiers that I know generally discourage people from having major work done on their kays since the cost of the repair will greatly exceed the market value of the instrument. The only Kays with high market value are old one (like pre 1960's) that are in good original condition. I say he should go for it providing he is willing to put the time and energy into doing a good job, Otherwise he should sell it to someone who can. I realy think people shouldn't be so precious about Kays though. They really aren't fine instruments in any way. They are good at what they were intended to be - sturdy workhorses. As soon as they are truly busted up, they have little value. By the way I own and play a 1964 M-1, and love to play it, but I wouldn't cry if it got smashed, and I wouldn't invest thousand of dollars in getting it fixed These are just my opinions.

    Jon
     
  6. B. Graham

    B. Graham Guest

    Aug 11, 2002
    I play a '39 C-1, and the top is starting to cave on it as well. It was a former college bass and had the tar beaten out of it for years. I don't recall where, but I thought I saw a supply place that had Kay/Englehardt tops for sale. I am no luthier, and am not making any statement of this being a viable option.

    I have a 100 year old carved flatback Czech bass in the basement that I'd love to restore, but I lack the skill and finances right now. Hopefully the top on the Kay won't cave in anytime too soon.
     
  7. matt macgown

    matt macgown Guest

    Dec 1, 2003
    Chattanooga, TN
    Do all the Kays have those block linings around the top inside? Some of those old thngs are a lttle beastly to pop off without taking some of that lining material. (reference to little blocks seemingly attached to a fiber base of some king, then glued in around the top edge).

    MwMacGn
     
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  9. matt macgown

    matt macgown Guest

    Dec 1, 2003
    Chattanooga, TN
    In the 50s, when I began playing bass, almost everything available was a Kay. I had about half a dozen of them through the years, and formed something of an opinion, though it's not set in cement.

    C -1's, set up right, were nice little basses for all -around purposes. But they were always equipped with gut top strings, and usually copper wound bottoms (very expensive the last time I checked) - they woldn't stay in tune through one piece of music. I think the survivors should be good chamber basses, with new set ups. (I have used Thomastic strings exclusively through the years).

    The S series seemed to be extremely variable in tone, resonance, and all that. I had one S series bass with a wonderful singing tone that the audiences (not necessarilly myself) liked, especially bowed, with things like Galliard, etc sonatas. It was a pretty good bass for as long as I had it. The swingmasters, unampliified, also varied all over the place, but I never heard or played one with much volume. Designed for appearances more than anything else. Chubby Jackson five strings have always sounded "blunted" to me - like they couldn't quite let it all hang out. Half way between decent and so - so. I had the oppostunity to get one for $2000 about ten years ago and declined.

    Lots of sunken tops on old Kays. Most of them died before their twentieth birthdays. But some survived well, and now sound pretty as orchestra basses, at least. I figure that if a Kay lasted 2 decades, it was going to be alright. And I think that's about how it seems to have worked out. A lot of that has to do with maintenance and life style, too. Most of them were used a bit on the rough side. The few that held up are pretty nice basses - IMO.

    I'd love to get a present of a decent C-1, place it among my memorabila and play it every now and then. At todays price for a C-1 - there's little likelihood of that. Should have kept my forst one!
     
  10. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    NYC
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    Kay as an orchestra bass? Maybe student orchestras...
     
  11. matt macgown

    matt macgown Guest

    Dec 1, 2003
    Chattanooga, TN
    AHa. I've seen numerous Kays played in orchestras - and I bet others have too, since I wasn't playing by myself. Not in big time orchs, though - circuit symphonies, where often times undergrad and grad students fill up a section. I've even seen swingmasters on occasion.

    My S-1 looked good (dark mahogany finish) and sounded good in '60 (thereabouts) and the Portland S.O conductor even let me in with that.
    Of course, I was an undergrad stuudnet and my teacher played cello #1. (I do recall the conductor sometimes throwing things at me, like batons, his music stand - though he usually was aiming for the bass section in general).
     
  12. matt macgown

    matt macgown Guest

    Dec 1, 2003
    Chattanooga, TN
    Ooops - Notice that I never did very well in "spelling... if you haven't already.
     
  13. matt macgown

    matt macgown Guest

    Dec 1, 2003
    Chattanooga, TN
    I may use up my message quota here, but I would like to add that a well set up laminated instrument, whether Kay or otherwise, with good strings and a decent person at the bow, often sounds far better than the run of the mill carved antiquity, hardly worth the money paid for it. Of the carved basses that I have played either on, or with, only a small handful live up to their reputation. The rest are pretty run of the mill stuff, and more headaches than they are worth. It's those few that appropriately we hold up as standards. And it's one of those that I'd like to afford! But it would have to be awfull good, since it would be awful expensive. (Basses are sort of like wives).
     
  14. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    NYC
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    Have you met Ken Smith yet?
     
  15. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    Ed, with his book of matches, happens across a seemingly hidden pool of gasoline...
     
  16. matt macgown

    matt macgown Guest

    Dec 1, 2003
    Chattanooga, TN
    Ayuh, but only on this forum stuff.
     
  17. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    NYC
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    Keerist, where to begin. And often they don't. I, personally, would rather hear a well set up carved antiquity (like my German factory bass). Good sounding basses sound good. Bad sounding basses sound bad. You will have the range of extremes, a badly made Chinese or East European carved bass with a thick coat of polyeurathane is no going to sound as good as Ahnoldt und Vil's plywood cannons. But that doesn't say anything about plywood or carved, right? That speaks volumes about construction and devotion. But that hardly justifies the generalisation that, excluding the "rarified" range of master instruments, carved basses are inferior "headaches". My head feels just fine, thank you.


    This may be telling me more about your range of experience than anything else.

    I must inquire, how does Mrs. SmackGinty feel about that comparison? Would a Pecanic tailpiece make her butt look fat?
     
  18. matt macgown

    matt macgown Guest

    Dec 1, 2003
    Chattanooga, TN
    Well, of course. My range of experience is up there to be seen - numerous ply basses, and about an equal number of carved. But never a real high quality carved. Juzeks, and some German items, including 7/8 with extensions. And have heard my share of basses, including a few of the fine basses in top orchestras, up close and afar. Oh - and a French bass that was far too delicate for me.

    Economics has a lot to do with it. Especially with kids, though not for everyone is that a factor. Care of it is the biggest concern - a fellow or girl - fellow with a fancy bass has a hefty responsibility, and lots of bass players of my aquaintance are all that well heeled. Only a few.


    Basses and wives - may be a bad comparison. I never had a bass that could cook. Or, come to think of it, a wife that could, either.
     
  19. matt macgown

    matt macgown Guest

    Dec 1, 2003
    Chattanooga, TN
    Oh, I see what w' mean - no Mrs. SmackGinty went the way of most Kays - held up for 20 years plus a little, then give out. Found 'er someone more resonnsible. That'd be about twenty year ago, I could've had another Kay run it's cycle by now.

    Butch 'y know, I come from a sorta de-pauperate environment, off up in the Maine woods just a little south of Patch Mountain, and there weren't hardly much of anything up there fer comparison, except a feller named Dwight Emery, and he run off to the city - Honolulu, I think it were, to play in that symphony over there. Short o' that, bass pickers were a rare breed in the 50s. Oh, I played fer a few folks since, but likely no one you ever heard of. So y' can't take me too seriously, least wise I never did, nor did she.
     
  20. I don't know about getting the top to pop off, but I think you can use a heating pad to get the hide glue moving. Do not try this at home kids!

    If I were thinking of attempting a diy fix up, I think I'd spend the small amount of $ it would take to have an experienced luthier remove the top for me and give me an assessment of the needed repairs.